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Massachusetts Gun Laws

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Possession: For hunting, resident citizens ages 15 and over must have a Firearms Identification Card (FID) to possess a low-capacity rifle or shotgun. A License To Carry (LTC) (age 21 and over) is needed to possess large capacity rifles and shotguns and all handguns. These permits are issued by local Police Departments. Non-residents with a valid Massachusetts non-resident hunting license do not need an LTC or FID to possess or carry a rifle or shotgun, but must carry their firearms unloaded and in a case while traveling in their vehicles. Non-residents may not purchase guns or ammunition in Massachusetts. To obtain a non-resident License To Carry or a non-resident permit to possess handguns, contact the CHSB (Criminal History Systems Board), Firearms Support Services (see below). No gun license is needed by bow hunters, nor by minors 12-14 years old hunting with a duly licensed adult, nor for the possession of primitive rifles or shotguns as defined in MGL Ch. 140, Section 121, or their ammunition. However, an LTC or FID is required to purchase all ammunition including black powder and Pyrodex.

Caution: Massachusetts public safety laws define primitive arms differently from the laws and regulations of the DFW.

Travel: Rifles, shotguns, and muzzleloaders may not be carried on public ways unless the person is lawfully engaged in hunting. When transported in a motor vehicle, rifles, shotguns, and muzzleloaders must be unloaded and in an enclosed case. A large capacity firearm must be carried unloaded and contained within a locked trunk or in a locked case or other secure container.

Storage: State law requires that whenever a gun is not under your direct control, it must be kept in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock. Muzzleloaders are exempt from this requirement.

Penalties: License revoked for one year in addition to other penalties; fines of up to $1,000; restitutions; and/or 1 year in jail. Careless and negligent use of firearms: fines of up to $500 and/or 6 months imprisonment and loss of license for 5 years.

Hunter Harassment

Hunter harassment is against state law. Report violations to the Mass. Environmental Police (800) 632-8075 or to state or local police. Be prepared to provide a description of violators and/or a description and license plate number of the car.

Closed Seasons

Hunting seasons are closed throughout the year on all birds and mammals not mentioned herein or in Massachusetts Migratory Bird Regulations published each September. During shotgun deer season all hunting seasons are closed except for deer, coyote, and waterfowl.

Open Seasons

The following species may be taken year-round (except during shotgun deer season) by licensed hunters with no daily or seasonal bag limit: English sparrow, flying squirrel, red squirrel, chipmunk, porcupine, skunk, starling, weasel, woodchuck.

Hunting hours

Hunting hours are from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset on each day of open season  except for:

  • Rabbit, hare, fox, and coyote hunting, which close at midnight, except during the shotgun deer season when coyote hunting closes ½ hour after sunset.
  • Spring turkey hunting.
  • Raccoon and opossum hunting.
  • WMA Reg. #10 which states that no person shall hunt before sunrise or after sunset on any WMA where pheasant or quail are stocked during the pheasant or quail season (Oct. 19 – Nov. 30) except for the hunting of raccoons and opossums between 9pm and 3am.
  • Migratory game bird hunting, which is 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset.

Checking or Reporting Game

Hunters who harvest a deer, bear or turkey are required to check their game within 48 hours of killing the animal.  For a complete list of official checking stations visit the DFW website www.mass.gov/masswildlife. Online checking of game will be available this year starting with the spring turkey season. Check website for instructions/forms. For general furbearer checking requirements see here.

 

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Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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J.F. Griffin Media reaches 9,000,000 sportsmen every year through our print and digital publications. We produce 30 hunting and fishing regulation guides for 15 state agencies. For advertising information, please visit: www.jfgriffin.com